Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said troops of Operation 777 had recovered 470 illegal arms and ammunition from suspected criminals within the Niger Delta region. The Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. John Agim, who made the disclosure in a statement, said the operations were carried out in Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Rivers states as well as southern parts of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Ondo states. He said operation 777, which was established on October 8, was largely driven by Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). It is a consolidation of Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), which has been in existence since 2015. According to Agim, suspected sea pirates, armed robbers and other criminal elements were arrested during the period under review.
“Since the launch of Operation 777, the Task Force has destroyed 436 illegal refineries. Also destroyed were 609 Cotonou boats, 1,507 surface tanks and 1,538 drums used for illegal bunkering. “The operation area covers Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Rivers states as well as southern parts of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Ondo states. Operation Delta Safe recorded huge achievements that have resulted in increased oil and gas production.
“In order to reinvigorate all our operations nationwide, Defence Headquarters launched Operation 777 on the 8 October 2018 and was activated by HQ OP Delta Safe on 10 October 2018. “Operation 777 therefore is aimed at curbing crude oil theft, illegal refining of petroleum products, illegal oil bunkering, communal clashes, kidnapping, piracy, and cultism as well as to eliminate militancy within the JOA. Based on the threat assessments, the conduct of Operation 777 has being intelligence-driven.
“Consequently, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance using air assets were deployed in all sectors to identify militant camps, kidnappers’ den as well as perpetrators of crude oil theft, illegal oil refining and bunkering. “The entire operation principally involves robust patrols around the creeks, major highways and flash points within the JOA. In some instances, aerial surveillance of identified hotspots of criminalities was conducted,” the DDI said. Agim added that in a bid to eliminate militancy and reduce the spate of incessant attacks on shipping within the JOA, identified active militant camps at Okparakiri, Sanikiri, Ke community, Elem Okporama and Olukirion were destroyed.